By: Katelyn Braatz, MS, LPC, LPC
How To Get Started In Texas
When I was completing my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, I started to think about the steps required to become an LPC. The first step was to do some research online on the requirements to become licensed. Not all states have the same requirements so it’s highly recommended to look at what they are in the state you live in.
If you live in Texas, the requirements are listed on the Texas Department of State Health Services website. When you go to the website, you will see columns on the left side where you will read “Apply for a new license.” Click on this and you will see a list of items including “Requirements.” According to the website “A master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a counseling-related field from an accredited college or university” and “A planned graduate program in counseling or a counseling-related field of at least 48 graduate semester hours”. When I was looking for an accredited college or university, I had to consider the fact that I was working full time (40 hours/week).
I found a useful website for those who would like to specifically look for a campus in Texas, which can filter the city, campus size, campus setting and faculty/student population. This website allows you to identify a school and browse through their website to find the right program for you. Some of the counseling programs offered may be onsite or online- I recommend you carefully look at the schools’ websites and if you are not 100 percent sure, it is best to call the school directly. Since I was working full time, I was considering an online school- this was something new given I never received a degree online. I came upon a university and I needed to know if it was accredited. This is very important given that this is required by the state to practice. The mental health counseling program I enrolled in was accredited by CACREP: the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
An additional requirement according to the TDSHS website: “Applicants must obtain academic course work in each of the following areas: normal human growth and development; abnormal human behavior; appraisal or assessment techniques; counseling theories; counseling methods or techniques (individual and group); research; lifestyle and career development; social, cultural and family issues; and professional orientation”.
Again, please do your research to make sure that the counseling program of your choice has appropriate academic coursework. Part of the graduate counseling program will require you to complete a supervised practicum that consists of at least 300 clock-hours with at least 100 clock-hours of direct client contact. It is recommended to find a site that will fit best with your treatment population and interests. I have great interest in working with adolescents and children, so I did research on where I could find a site that I could be supervised at. One way to identify places is to search online for phrases such as “mental health facilities in Texas” which should return have numerous search results. Most likely, the school will offer insight as to the places that will offer practicum and some will even have a contract with some facilities.
I lived in Wisconsin (where I grew up) when I was completing my graduate program and found a crisis homeless shelter that provided services to the youth population. After I graduated from Walden University in 2010, the next step was to take and pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE). You can find all the necessary information about the NCE and how to sign up for the exam by visiting their website. According to the NCE website the exam is “a 200-item multiple-choice examination designed to assess knowledge, skills and abilities determined to be important for providing effective counseling services”. The website provides examination preparation guides and listed materials to be prepared for the exam. At that time, I was recommended to purchase and study the book “The Encyclopedia of Counseling by Howard G. Rosenthal.”
Taking the jurisprudence exam was pretty straightforward and you can pass it on your first try. You can obtain information on taking the exam on here.
After passing the NCE and the jurisprudence exam, you will need to file for a temporary license in order to obtain the 3,000 hours of experience with at least 1,500 being direct client contact of internship under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor. It is important to note that although you may work at multiples sites and may obtain the 3,000 hours in a short time, according to the state of Texas, the 3000 clock-hours may not be completed in a time period of less than 18 months. Again, I highly recommend you find a site that you would like to learn and grow from. Sometimes you will find that the site that you want to obtain the hours does not have an onsite supervisor so I would recommend looking online. I found a supervisor who was able to fit my busy schedule, experience, and financial needs.
Exult Healthcare, my current employer, is seeking counselor interns right now. The director of the therapy program has her LCDC and is able to supervise LCDC interns. If you are currently trying to get hours for LPC licensure, be sure to secure a supervisor offsite before starting at Exult Healthcare. After you complete the 3,000 hours, you and your supervisor will need to fill out the necessary paperwork to file for your professional unrestricted license. When I submitted my paperwork for licensure, it took about 6 months- which can vary depending on how busy your state is.
After the all the hard work and effort you have put in to getting your license, you become qualified to work in different settings and with the population of your choice (depending on your expertise/specialty). It may be a long journey but it is all worth it given you are helping individuals reach their goals and live fulfilling lives.
If you are seeking a counselor on an individual or on a group basis, please give Exult Healthcare a call at (469) 714-0006.